Michigan State Police Gladstone Post Commander Lt. William Smith Arrested And Suspended After Drunken Wreck

July 11, 2012

SAULT STE. MARIE, MICHIGAN — Authorities in the Upper Peninsula are investigating a crash that led to the arrest of a state police post commander on a drunken driving charge.

The Daily News in Iron Mountain says Lt. William Smith was arrested Saturday by police in Sault Ste. Marie for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Chippewa County Prosecutor Brian Peppler says the arrest followed a traffic accident in a personal vehicle.

Peppler says no charges have been authorized pending results of a blood test.

The 43-year-old Smith was appointed commander of the Gladstone post in April. He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Peppler has worked with Smith in the past and says he’s asked state Attorney General Bill Schuette to appoint an outside prosecutor for the case.

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Dumbass Waterford Michigan Police Officer Annette Miller Crashed Into Tree While Chasing Motorcycle In SUV Without Using Emergency Lights Or Siren

June 3, 2012

WATERFORD, MICHIGAN – After a Waterford police officer suffered severe injuries in a crash May 23, discussion arose online about the officer not using her vehicle’s lights and sirens while attempting to catch a speeding motorcyclist.

“She could have taken action to alert other drivers in the area that she was in pursuit,” said one commenter.

Coreen Darnall noted “officers need to recognize (during pursuits) that it’s not always possible to see/hear oncoming emergency vehicles, even with sirens.”

Officer Annette Miller has been unable to speak after suffering severe injuries during an accident on Elizabeth Lake Road near Huron Street in Waterford.

During the incident, a 20-year-old man driving a Volkswagen turned in front of Miller’s police vehicle. When she swerved to avoid the car, she crashed into a tree. Emergency personnel had to extricate her from the police SUV, and she has been hospitalized since. The Volkswagen driver was hospitalized for precautionary reasons, police said.

Waterford Police Chief Daniel McCaw said Miller’s lights and siren not being activated was “typical for police officers.”

“If they observe a violation, lots of times they’ll catch up to the vehicle and when they get behind the vehicle, they’ll go ahead and activate the lights and siren.”

McCaw said that Miller was not yet in pursuit mode when she was traveling along Elizabeth Lake Road.

“She was trying to catch up to the (motorcyclist),” he said.

He said police often do not use lights and sirens. For example, he said, when an officer is responding to a burglary call, “you would go in with no lights or sirens.”

McCaw said pursuit policy has changed in police departments over time.

“Years ago police would chase for everything,” he said. “You have to weigh public safety so you don’t see the pursuits as you did years ago.”

In the May 23 crash, many commenters noted that police can’t just abandon the idea of chasing a suspect.

“If you don’t chase them, then we let crime win,” said Pat Bernieri. “Let the police do their jobs as they see fit.”

‘As long as bad guys flee, cops will pursue’

While Waterford stresses Miller was not in pursuit, accounts over the years indicate pursuits come with serious risks. About 35 to 40 percent of all police chases end in crashes, Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina said in a USA Today story in April 2010. Alpert noted that the nation’s 17,000 police departments are moving toward more restrictive chase policies “because chasing someone for a traffic offense or a property offense is not worth the risk of people’s lives and well-being.”

Police pursuit records provide frightening statistics, according to a report presented online by the FBI in 2010.

“First, the majority of police pursuits involve a stop for a traffic violation. Second, one person dies every day as a result of a police pursuit. On average, from 1994 through 1998, one law enforcement officer was killed every 11 weeks in a pursuit, and 1 percent of all U.S. law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty lost their lives in vehicle pursuits.

Innocent third parties who just happened to be in the way constitute 42 percent of persons killed or injured in police pursuits. Further, 1 out of every 100 high-speed pursuits results in a fatality.

Most area police agencies contacted indicated that officers are to use lights and sirens during the pursuit.

Royal Oak Chief Corey O’Donohue said the department has a lengthy pursuit policy.

“Yes, we use lights and sirens,” he said.

After every pursuit, the results are “evaluated to make sure officers follow policy and use sound judgment,” he said.

Officers in pursuit must contact dispatchers. “The pursuit can be overruled by the shift supervisor,” he said.

Victor Lauria, Novi’s assistant police chief, stressed the main concern during pursuits is the safety of innocent residents, police and the fleeing suspect. “There is significant risk,” he said of pursuits.

The police officer is “constantly evaluating the situation. Lights and sirens must be activated,” he said. “They serve two functions — they alert the suspect to stop and yield, and they alert others there is an emergency vehicle on the road.”

Speeding motorcyclist ‘paced’

An example of a high-speed pursuit of a motorcyclist without lights and siren on occurred in Washington in 2010, according to a story by the News Tribune in Tacoma. A Washington State trooper spotted a motorcycle speeding and passing vehicles.

The officer drove onto the highway and paced the motorcyclist going 80 to 90 mph in a 60 mph zone.

“Pacing” is when a police officer follows a driver, checking speeds by looking at his own speedometer.

In the Washington case, the biker sped up to 100 mph. The trooper then activated his emergency lights and sirens. Eventually the motorcyclist lost control of his vehicle and laid the bike down. Arrested and charged with eluding a police vehicle and stealing the motorcycle, the biker said he fled because he was scared.

Terrence Jungel, executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs Association, said police have always fielded complaints about high-speed pursuits.

“There were probably complaints about the (Old West’s) posse chasing bank robbers. As long as bad guys flee, cops will pursue,” Jungel said.

Law enforcement officials face liability if pursuits end badly.

Pursuits generally “put cops in a bad position,” he said.

“They have to try and second-guess what is going on. They have little information on why a driver is fleeing — it could be to avoid apprehension or to hide the fruits of a crime.”

As for using lights and sirens, he said “it depends. You don’t have cookie-cutter crimes. Police have to make split-second decisions that later end up in courts. Each situation dictates an appropriate response.”

Pursuit policies could differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, Jungel said.

“It depends if you are in cities or in a rural area,” he said.

Police don’t graduate without pursuit training.

Jungel stressed that pursuits are dangerous situations.

“We don’t like to face a man with a loaded gun and we don’t like to be in high-speed pursuits,” he said. “There are so many variables. The higher speeds mean greater liability.”

The Police Studies Council calls pursuits by police a “relatively dangerous, inexact undertaking.”

West Bloomfield Township Police Chief Michael Patton — whose department’s pursuit policy is 20 pages long — said pursuits are “a fact of life” in law enforcement, he said.

Patton worked with Officer Miller in the 1980s and said he is concerned about her recuperation.

Common sense and reasonableness apply during pursuits, he said.

“It’s a balancing act of risk versus benefit,” he said.

Patton has trained officers in pursuits. “We tell officers not to get caught up in the emotion of it,” he said. “That’s why supervisors step in (and are apprised during all pursuits).”

Police have authority of close the distance between a fleeing suspect and themselves, he said.

“Generally there is no such thing as a silent run pursuit,” Patton said.

The written pursuit policy for Michigan State Police outlines how troopers “shall weigh the hazard presented by the violator against that created by a vehicle pursuit. It is better to either delay the arrest or abandon the pursuit than to needlessly injure or kill innocent people, including our own members.”

When a pursuit starts, the officer “shall activate and continuously operate the emergency lights, siren and in-car video recorder on their vehicles until the pursuit has terminated or is abandoned,” according to the policy wording forwarded by spokeswoman Tiffany Brown.

Most departments contacted were reluctant to hand over their pursuit policies, saying they did not want everyone to know what tactics were employed by police. The City of Memphis, Tenn. posts its entire pursuit policy online. During a crime in progress or vehicle pursuits, classified as emergency calls, “officers will respond in emergency mode with both emergency lights and siren being used.”

USA Today reported that, according to professor Alpert, restrictive chase policies save lives. He stated in a National Institute of Justice research paper that police chases in Miami-Dade County dropped from 279 a year to 51 after the department implemented a more restrictive policy.

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Two Small Planes In Mid-Air Crash Over Virginia Were Registered To FAA And NTSB Employees

May 29, 2012

VIRGINIA – Investigators learned that the planes involved in Monday afternoon’s mid-air crash in Fauquier County were registered to employees of the FAA and the NTSB.

Two people died after two small planes collided about 4 p.m. and then crashed to the ground about a mile apart from each other in southern Fauquier County.

A Beechcraft BE-35 registered to an NTSB employee caught fire when it hit the ground. The pilot and passenger died, but it’s unknown if either was the owner of the plane. They have not been identified.

The pilot and owner of the second plane — a 1965 Piper PA-28 — was an FAA employee identified as 70-year-old Thomas R. Provin, of Broad Run, Va. He was taken to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va. He remained hospitalized Tuesday but there’s no word on his condition.

Because the planes were owned and/or operated by FAA and NTSB employees, NTSB, after consulting with the FAA, requested the Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigate the crash.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, but police received several calls from people in the area at the time of the crash.

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Detroit Lakes Minnesota Firemen Turn Staged Demonstration Crash Scene Into A Real One – Sending 6 People To The Hospital

May 5, 2012

DETROIT LAKES, MINNESOTA – A bizarre incident in Detroit Lakes this morning where a mock crash almost turned into a real life tragedy.

The mock crash was staged right here along Madison Avenue near the High School, you can see benches are still in place where the nearly 400 students were standing. An unmanned fire truck that officials believe was in neutral with the park break on began sliding and rolled about 30-feet into the mock scene, sending six people to the hospital.

These are pictures from the scene moments after the accident. Detroit Lakes police say their were two cars staged with both student and community volunteers.

The fire truck hit the first car at a low rate of speed less than 5-miles-per-hour, but the 36-thousand-pound vehicle pushed both cars about 15-feet. Two students, an EMS worker, two community volunteers and a state trooper were all injured in the incident.

From what we gathered, everyone has been treated and released from the hospital, calling it just bumps and bruises. Tonight at six, hear first hand from students who saw the terrifying accident.

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15 Year Old Texas Boy Charged With 9 Counts Of Murder After Crashing Van With Load Of Illegal Immigrants – Hidalgo County DA Rene Guerra Wants Him Tried As An Adult

April 17, 2012

PALMVIEW, TEXAS - A 15-year-old South Texas boy charged with nine counts of murder after he crashed a minivan packed with illegal immigrants, killing nine of them, cried and expressed remorse before a judge Monday, police said.

The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, appeared at a probable cause hearing at a juvenile detention facility. He was also charged with 17 counts of smuggling of a person causing serious bodily injury or death, and one count of evading.

Border Patrol agents pulled over the van last Tuesday night about 10 miles west of McAllen. As it stopped, one person jumped from the vehicle and ran. When agents pursued him the van sped off. It crashed just a few blocks away scattering a parking lot with bodies, backpacks and water bottles. The driver escaped, but was arrested two days later at his home.

Palmview Police worked with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations to arrest six people suspected of involvement in the smuggling operation on charges related to harboring illegal immigrants. At least four of the six crash survivors were detained as material witnesses.

Through interviews with them they found the teen driver, said Palmview police Chief Chris Barrera.

“He wanted to come clean so he came out and gave us a statement,” Barrera said. “He explained to us exactly what had happened, what he had done.”

Palmview Detective Saul Uvalle, who attended the probable cause hearing, said the teen told the judge that if he didn’t drive the van they were going to kill his family. Uvalle said the teen didn’t say who “they” were. “He was very remorseful of what happened,” Uvalle said.

State prosecutors can pursue the felony murder charges because the deaths occurred during the commission of a felony, in this case evading Border Patrol. A judge will eventually decide whether the boy will be tried as an adult.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said he planned to petition a judge to certify the boy so he can be tried as an adult.

“I’m going to be as aggressive as the law allows,” Guerra said.

According to a federal complaint filed last week, two suspects admitted after their arrests to participating in the smuggling of the illegal immigrants involved in the crash and those in the stash house. One said he was offered $40 per passenger to drive the van, but refused and instead put the 15-year-old in contact with the organization, the complaint says.

Guerra said that the adults involved must have understood the risks in getting a teenager with no driver’s license to undertake the job.

“When you have that kind of a situation where some people say that’s an accident, no, I’m sorry that’s not an ordinary accident,” Guerra said. “These are things that they know. That they can anticipate.”

At a children’s daycare center near where the crumpled van came to rest, passersby have created an impromptu memorial with dozens of candles, notes and religious icons. Lucy Moreno, 33, assistant director of the daycare, said Monday that the murder charges seemed too much for a juvenile.

As the parent of a 14-year-old, Moreno said she thought the boy “doesn’t have the maturity to think about how he was putting lives at risk.”

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Navy Jet Crashes Into Virginia Beach Residential Neighborhood Burning Apartment Buildings

April 6, 2012

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA – Two Navy pilots ejected from a fighter jet Friday, sending the unmanned plane careening into a Virginia Beach apartment complex and tearing the roof off at least one building that was engulfed in flames, officials said.

Local officials reported three injuries, including the pilot, but no deaths. The Navy said both people on board the jet ejected before it crashed around noon and were being taken to hospitals for observation.

Live video from WAVY-TV showed dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filling the densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hoses snaked through side streets as fire crews poured water on the charred rooftops of brick apartment houses. Another fire crew doused the plane’s wreckage with streams of white foam to try and contain any potential spill of jet fuel.

Four buildings had massive damage, showing gaping holes with fire-blackened edges, while a few yards away, rows of homes were largely untouched.

As authorities closed roads in the neighborhood, traffic backed up on side streets and on nearby Interstate 264, with slow-moving columns of vehicles bringing drivers to a virtual standstill early Friday afternoon.

The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, is located in Virginia Beach.

Edna Lukens, an apartment employee across the street from the crash, said she saw three apartment buildings on fire.

“We heard this loud noise and we looked out the window and there was smoke all in the sky. Then the flames started going up in the sky, and then the apartment building just started burning and the police was called and everybody came out,” Lukens said.

Lukens said a senior citizens’ community was across the street, and people were trying to help them evacuate.

The Daily Press of Portsmouth reported that Sean Pepe of Norfolk and Kenny Carver of Hampton saw the jet as they were driving on Interstate 264. They said it appeared to be “floating” in the air before it went down behind trees.

“It was odd, but we didn’t think anything of it,” Pepe told the newspaper. “We thought it was doing maneuvers. We were watching the plane but didn’t see the impact. We saw it go down and there was a `boom.’ Then there was black smoke everywhere.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell issued this statement Friday:

“We are taking all possible steps at the state level to provide immediate resources and assistance to those impacted by the crash of an F-18 fighter jet in Virginia Beach. In the past half hour I have spoken to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms several times and informed him that all Commonwealth resources are available to him as the community responds to this breaking situation. We are monitoring events carefully as they unfold and State Police resources are now on the scene. Our fervent prayer is that no one was injured or killed in this accident.”

Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., says the first responders “are admirably addressing the situation on the ground,” according to a release.

“Our prayers are with our entire Hampton Roads and military communities right now,” he says. “I have spoken with Governor McDonnell, Mayor Sessoms, and leadership at Naval Air Station Oceana, and my office and I stand ready to assist as appropriate.”

The same model of fighter jet, an F/A-18D, crashed in December 2008 while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a training exercise in a San Diego neighborhood. That crash killed four members of one family and destroyed two homes.

The Marine Corps said the jet suffered a mechanical failure, but a series of bad decisions led the pilot — a student — to bypass a potentially safe landing at a coastal Navy base after his engine failed. The pilot ejected and told investigators he screamed in horror as he watched the jet plow into the neighborhood, incinerating two homes. A federal judge ordered the U.S. government to pay the family nearly $18 million in restitution.

An F-18, a supersonic jet used widely in the Marine Corps and Navy and by the stunt-flying Blue Angels, costs about $57 million. An F-18 crashed at Miramar — known as the setting for the movie “Top Gun” — in November 2006, and that pilot also ejected safely.

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Buffalo New York Police Hight-Speed Chase On City Streets Included Collision With Church Bus That Sent Its Innocent Driver To Hospital

April 4, 2012

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – A Buffalo police officer and a church van driver were taken to Erie County Medical Center following a high-speed car chase that ended when a 15-year-old driver crashed a car into a police cruiser near Manhattan and Shawnee avenues just after noon today.

Police are considering stolen car and other charges against the teen who was taken into custody.

The police officer was listed in stable condition with multiple injuries. The church van driver was being treated at the hospital. Police would not release the names of the two injured or the suspect.

The incident began with a call about a suspicious vehicle moving at a high rate of speed in the Main Street-Depew area late this morning.

Officers stopped the vehicle but the driver sped away and within minutes clipped a church van near Bennett Village Terrace, injuring the van driver.

Minutes later, the chase came to a jarring halt on Manhattan near Shawnee Avenue when the teen driver crashed into a police car, injuring an officer but apparently coming away uninjured himself.

Police spokesmen said officers believe the car was stolen and used in a recent felony crime, which remains part of the investigation.

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